It has been three years since Nonna and I went on holiday when I was 28 weeks pregnant and neither Alyssa nor Bear had ever been abroad (although Bear is technically from Guernsey so England is abroad for him!!) and we were all full of colds, run down and generally out of oomph! So we decided we needed to get away and we all definitely needed some sunshine, so we booked a week’s stay at the glorious Hotel Suite Villa Maria in Tenerife where the average temperature in November was 25 degrees – perfect and not too hot for my milky skinned tot.
We actually decided to book the holiday through Tots to Travel as we wanted to make sure we would have everything we needed for Alyssa without bringing it all from home and using up precious swimwear space in the suitcases! Well, I can tell you right now that I am so glad we did. We were sent a list of items we could have in our villa waiting for us including stair gates, bed rail, potty, baby monitor etc. I requested a few items but actually when we arrived not only was every item on the list present but they were also all set up and ready – the bed rail was installed, the potty and small toilet seat were in, there was a made travel cot with a cute teddy just in case and there was even a food blender in the kitchen to puree baby food. Obviously I didn’t need everything but it was wonderful to have – there was even a bottle steriliser and cutlery and plastic plate, bowl and cup too.
Anyway, first of all we had to get on holiday. We had a very early morning flight which required us to be at Heathrow Terminal 5 for 3.45am so we decided to stay up there the night before and booked two standard rooms with The Thistle Hotel as well as parking. If it hadn’t been for the sign, I would not have known it was a hotel as it looked like an industrial building. The reception area was nice as was the restaurant (though a bit stuffy and not really suitable for toddlers even though the staff were lovely to her) but that is kind of where my enthusiasm left me. It is very dated, there is NO LIFT which you are not pre-warned about at all and we were NOT offered any help with our numerous bags and tired toddler. The rooms themselves were nice but smaller than what you would find at a Travel Lodge or Premier Inn. A problem arose in mine and Alyssa’s room because our bathroom door didn’t actually close meaning I had to be awfully careful not to wake her when using it once she was asleep and in the end skipped having a shower.
Upon leaving the hotel the next morning, I was lucky enough to see a night manager go to a room and ask someone if they could please quieten their crying baby down or if there was anything they could do to quieten the baby – clearly that person does not have children and kudos to the people in the adjoining room for complaining! Anyway, we left the hotel to use the new Transport Pod system which takes you directly from the hotel to Heathrow Terminal 5. Please note – the pod is actually free, but The Thistle Hotel CHARGE you for an access code to leave their property via a locked gate that leads you through to the pod station. There are also no trolleys or help from the hotel to the pod which is about a 5 minute walk so pack lightly unlike us!
The pods themselves are awesome and Alyssa loved zipping along and as stated took us right to the terminal where we took a lift up to departures. Surprisingly, everything went smoothly at the terminal (although British Airways decided that we couldn’t check in at our designated desk, we had to go to a different one because we had a child and moved us where we ended up at the back of a queue that didn’t open for a further 15 minutes – cheers!) The flight went brilliantly well and we had brilliant pilots and stewarding staff who made the journey pass well. Alyssa was so well behaved and considering it was her first ever flight and it was four hours long (AND she didn’t sleep AT ALL) did very well – though unfortunately that had nothing to do with British Airways. Alyssa was happy because I was prepared and provided activities and entertainment – I think it’s quite sad that big companies like British Airways no longer provide kids packs when on flights as I always loved getting mine when I was younger. Perhaps spend less on getting 20 odd famous actors to do your in-flight safety talk and more on something for the kids and bringing back decaffeinated coffee which for some reason got axed from the drinks trolley at the beginning of the season!
Smooth touch down in Tenerife which looked a little cloudy but we were just happy to arrive! The passport control was a nightmare and was an hour of queuing WITHOUT the pushchair which was just oodles of fun but we found our transfer taxi and gratefully climbed aboard with bottles of water and air con and set off. This was when my little angel blossom finally passed out for 2.5 hours which was pretty good timing! It was only a short transfer and we arrived to the gorgeous entrance of the Hotel Suite Villa Maria.
We were helped in with our luggage which was taken to a storage area in Reception where they would be delivered to our villa for us. Upon arrival we met the lovely Cristina (who was very helpful and wonderful through our entire stay and is a credit to the hotel) who checked us in, offered us complimentary champagne or sparkling water (obviously I totally grabbed a champers!!) and also informed us we had been upgraded!!! Instead of a two bedroom with a Jacuzzi we had been upgraded to a 3 bedroom with a private pool – how amazing was that?! We had a short wait whilst our villa was prepared so we decided to have a little look around.
The entrance leads into a big courtyard with reception off to one side, a bar and tapas restaurant that opens from 3pm with entertainment in the evening and on the other side a games room, salon, supermarket and the marketing suite. On the terrace above is the restaurant which hosts breakfast each morning as well as lounging areas – magnificent. Through an archway leads you to the main pool which has the pool bar/restaurant beside it – climbing a few steps takes you to the middle pool and just above that the toddler pool and children’s play park. The villas and apartments are all in circles around the pools with landscaping in between and very private. We had a lovely lunch in the poolside bar, not the cheapest but still delicious, enough choice and what you’d expect from a 5 star hotel.
The hotel itself is basically on one giant hill so it can be quite slopey – luckily I had put in a request to be fairly central due to Nonna’s illness though it wouldn’t have mattered as you can ring reception for a lift at any time on one of the golf buggies. Still we were quite central. After lunch we were able to go to our villa – I will let my little video show you the rest…
How gorgeous is the villa?! As I said previously, thanks to Tots to Travel we had everything and more that I needed for Alyssa and even if I hadn’t booked them or through Tots to Travel you can actually request all the items once you are there. As you can see from my pictures, there was also gated fencing erected around the pool so that if Alyssa happened to wander out there alone, she wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere near the pool or have an accident.
We had absolutely gorgeous weather whilst we were there and I am grateful to have the tan to prove it. We spent a blissful week lying on sun loungers, splashing in pools and just generally relaxing and recuperating. It was also the first time in two years of blogging I have turned on my out of office email and taken time off and it was wonderful. It was, as ever, a little difficult being a vegetarian on holiday and we pretty much survived on Pizza, Cheese Pasta and gorgeous Caprese Salads with garlic bread and chips thrown in but it doesn’t matter.
If you are a Vegetarian visiting Tenerife then be prepared – I would suggest that you DON’T visit La Caleta as it is a small fishing “village” and we could only find one place where there was something we could eat and it really wasn’t suitable for children at all. We had much better luck going to Playa de Fanabe (ask for this specifically) and walking along the double level promenade! We enjoyed a wonderful meal at Limoncello (Vio was a fantastic waiter and wonderful with Alyssa – he even rushed her order through and returned less than 5 minutes later with her food and later her dessert and provided her with colouring and entertainment) where we had literally THE BEST CHIPS I have ever tasted and there was a wonderful range of food and cocktails! We also tried Gran Sol which was nice though a little bit “funky and hip” so I felt a bit awkward with a two year old but that was just me.
We actually visited Playa de Fanabe in the afternoon one day as well – the beach has black sand and really freaked Alyssa out when it got wet. They have great touristy shops, as well as trampolines and play areas for children. If you’re ill, there is a pharmacy every other shop AND if you don’t like foreign food, we found a Burger King, McDonalds and Subway down there – all of which we passed on but you know, if you fancy it!
We split our time in the evenings between Fanabe and the Hotel’s Pool Bar Restaurant which also has a BBQ a few nights a week too. There is the main restaurant but despite the hotel being super child friendly, I didn’t want to risk taking Alyssa up there for a meal. We had a delicious buffet breakfast there each morning, with every kind of food you could imagine from pastries and cereals to a cooked breakfast or cheese and bread – scrummy! I have to say another big thank you to the lovely waitress Paloma who works in the Pool Bar – she was really lovely to Alyssa and took the time to speak to her and make her smile.
Speaking of making Alyssa smile – she adored the pool and hardly ever wanted to be out of it. However, there was something that made her smile more than I have ever seen and that was Bea. Bea was the wonderful woman who ran the children’s club. There is a gorgeous children’s playroom that is open every day where children can go to play (whilst supervised by their parents) and then join in activities with Bea. At 5.30pm each day, there was a disco in the courtyard with dancing, a disco ball, balloons, apple juice, sweets and balloon animals for any child wanting to partake. This disco was Alyssa’s high point each day and what she asked about and begged for during the day. She loved popping on a pretty dress and heading up to twirl and dance – thank you Bea! You were wonderful and made my little one so happy!
The only sour spot of the whole holiday was having my phone stolen which completely sucked. When returning from Fanabe, we got a registered taxi and because I was dealing with a tired toddler I didn’t pay attention and my 4 month old, on contract, Samsung S8 slipped from my bag into the taxi. I realised within minutes what had happened and the lovely Cristina on reception called the company for me and asked for my phone to be searched for and returned. An hour later, a different taxi driver arrived (we had to pay him for the journey!!!) and handed over my phone case, all my bank cards and i.d but with the phone missing. The best part was that my insurance had a clause in it stating that I wasn’t covered for loss or theft on public transport – truly gutted. Luckily Sony Xperia have stepped up and sent me the wonderful new Xperia XZ1 Compact – but more on that to come and check my Instagram for all the latest!